Tories who won Welsh target seats received ‘dark money’ donations

James Davies picture by David Woolfall (CC BY 3.0). Virginia Crosbie picture by Stacey Mutkin (CC BY-SA 4.0). Sarah Atheron picture by David Woolfall (CC BY 3.0).

More than half of donations received by new Conservative MPs in Wales came from secretive fundraising clubs based in the south-east of England.

Six of the nine new Conservative MPs elected in Wales received a combined 15 donations totalling £53,750, according to the new register of MPs’ interests.

The source for 55% of that sum (£29,750) was a network of clubs and funds used by the Conservative party to allow rich supporters to donate money anonymously which is usually targeted at candidates in marginal seats.

The funding is legal but transparency campaigners have called for a change to the rules so that the origins of political donations are revealed.

James Davies, who won the Vale of Clwyd from Labour’s Chris Ruane, received the highest number of such donations of any of the new Welsh Conservative MPs.

He received £2,500 from the political committee of the Carlton Club, a further £2,500 from the Association of Conservative Clubs and two donations worth £3,500 from the United and Cecil Club.

Both the Carlton Club and United and Cecil Clubs are unincorporated associations which don’t have to register gifts made to them with the Electoral Commission under the value of £7,500.

Virginie Crosbie (Ynys Môn) and Sarah Atherton (Wrexham) both won their seats and received a £3,500 contribution each from the United and Cecil Club, described by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism as “an organisation registered at a stables in the Home Counties” which “is playing an increasingly crucial role in funding election bids in the most tightly contested constituencies”.

They were among 36 successful candidates who shared a pot of £113,500 in anonymous donations from the United and Cecil club at this election, according to a new investigation by Open Democracy.

 

‘Transparency’

Craig Williams, who took the Montgomeryshire seat of retiring Glyn Jones, also received £5,000 from the Association of Conservative Clubs, which is a limited company that represents unincorporated associations across Britain.

Fay Jones, who won Brecon and Radnorshire, received £5,000 from the Stalbury Trustees via a Mayfair based law firm.

She was one of 26 successful candidates to receive £116,000 from the Stalbury Trustees, according to Open Democracy.

Companies House records show that Stalbury Trustees has four directors: the Seventh Marquis of Salisbury, the Seventh Earl of Verulam, Lord Charles Cecil and stockbroker David Barnett.

Rob Roberts, who won Delyn from Labour, received £4,250 from the Tandridge Club based in East Surrey. The club also donated to the successful Tory candidates in Colne Valley and Ashfield.

Simon Barnes (Clwyd South), Robin Millar (Aberconwy) and Jamie Wallis (Bridgend) were the three successful Conservative candidates in Wales who haven’t registered donations from such sources.

Steve Goodrich, head of research at Transparency International, told Open Democracy: “Unincorporated associations make it far too easy for those shy of publicity to withhold their names from public view.

“Whilst this may be within the current rules, it also shows the rules aren’t achieving their aim: providing transparency and probity over the origins of money in politics.”

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RhosdduNeil Evansdeborah andertonErnie The SmallholderHuw J Davies Recent comment authors
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Gareth
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Gareth

Is Plaid Cymru’s most financially sucessful branch still their London one?

Huw J Davies
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Huw J Davies

Well, Gareth, the old saying ‘Gorau Cymro, Cymro oddi cartref’ has been a truism for a long time.

howell williams
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We all know what happens to people and party’s when given enough rope.

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Short term this may be irritating. However given that most of these cuckoos require support from outside Wales we can be optimistic about the medium, i.e 5 year, term prospects for turfing them out as they do not appear to have any depth of local support. They have succeeded on a raft of borrowed votes and those votes may move on to other parties once Boris’ blunders start to bite. Our duty is to make sure that electorates are fully briefed about underperformance instead of howling about exotic causes that are distant from most of the electorates’ daily experiences. Focus,… Read more »

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

Absolutely right! These people are not here because the red wall suddenly decided to adopt Tory principles. They won because the Conservative Party were the only pro-Brexit party that stood a chance of winning in Leave areas in what was in effect a second referendum on Brexit. The Party’s success is unlikely to be repeated in the 2021 Senedd elections, and with things likely to go Pete Tong for the Welsh ‘economy’ over the next five years, I predict that it’s back to England for some of ’em after the next GE.

Ernie The Smallholder
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Ernie The Smallholder

There are people who complain about foreign money coming in to domestic election campaigns. …….. And those that are total hypocrites. Wales must have its own laws, justice system, etc to deal with these outside influences including from England. Clearly we need our own political system and domestic parties based in Wales. I welcome the formation of WNP, Gwlad Gwlad, Undod alongside Plaid Cymru – They will should give our independence movement broad appeal; However, we must make broad alliances pre-independence to ensure we do get independence. If the British based political parties wish to continue to be relevant to… Read more »

j humphrys
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j humphrys

Agreed. Actually, I am so angry that I can’t comment, so thank you guys for yours!

Jonathan Gammond
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Jonathan Gammond

The Electoral campaign spending laws are so out of date, to even described them as ‘analogue’ in a digital age, is being overly generous. The controls on and transparency of local spending in each constituency are inadequate, at national level they are almost non-existent and digitally it’s the wild west where anything goes.

Ernie The Smallholder
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Ernie The Smallholder

This describes the whole of the UK – Not fit for purpose in a democratic, open and free society.

deborah anderton
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deborah anderton

I would welcome a balanced debate regarding this article. You point out monies donated to the conservative candidates but I am sure the same goes for ALL the political parties. Correct me if Im wrong but do you still stand independent of any particular party or has that changed in the ladt couple of years? Also it would be good to give these candidates a fair chance to answer this article?

Neil Evans
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Neil Evans

Interesting to see that thus story hasn’t been covered on Nation.Cymru: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-51546063
Maybe a slight bias is being applied….get real and play a straight bat if you want to be taken seriously!

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

It’s a fair cop. But Plaid’s transgression was old-fashioned creative accounting. The funding for the Tory parachute-jumpers was rich outsiders sneakily manipulating a crucial vote in another country to secure the Leave vote for Bozza.